Big days for Nelson, Washington

BY foxsports • November 21, 2011

Cue the videotape.

LeGarrette Blount’s 54-yard touchdown run should have counted for double points because of a “degree of difficulty” component. Seriously, seek out the replay of this run and add it as the next great run behind Marshawn Lynch’s sprint from last season in your archives. Blount entered the week as a dangerous play against B.J. Raji and the Green Bay run defense. He carried defenders down the field and broke innumerable tackles en route to his highlight-worthy touchdown run. Blount finished the day with 107 yards on 18 carries. His rushing average on those other 17 carries was more in line with expectations.

Jay Cutler posted one of his top performances as a member of the Bears in Sunday’s win over San Diego. Cutler passed for 286 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, and he finally got Johnny Knox involved in the attack (three receptions for 97 yards and his first touchdown of the season). He also added a bonus rushing touchdown and 11 rushing yards.

* Unfortunately, the day ended with the crushing news that Cutler had broken his thumb. As of this writing, a decision regarding surgery had not been made. Caleb Hanie takes over for Cutler for the foreseeable future, and the creativity of Mike Martz to find space for Matt Forte will be tested.

Philip Rivers turned in a solid fantasy effort, but I’m still scratching my head following his inexplicable interceptions. Rivers passed for 280 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Give credit to the beleaguered San Diego offensive line. The Bears were unable to get to Rivers despite numerous blitzes, much to the chagrin of owners that looked to feast on the slumping Chargers.

The Bears lived by press coverage on Calvin Johnson in Week 10. They died by it in Week 11 when Vincent Jackson tortured Charles Tillman (take nothing away from the ball-punch forced fumble) for seven receptions for 165 yards and a touchdown. It was Jackson’s second huge day in the past three weeks. The other came against another NFC North opponent when Green Bay visited San Diego. He squares off with Champ Bailey and the Broncos in Week 12.

Teammate Antonio Gates has slowed down a step, but he still knows how to find space and make plays. Gates caught four passes for 63 yards and scored his third touchdown of the season against Chicago. He’s averaged 5.2 receptions and 68 receiving yards in five games since returning to the field.

Celebrate the continued successes of Victor Cruz. He had already found the end zone and posted a solid day for owners in his lofty WR2 slot when he broke free for a 47-yard reception in the failed comeback drive. Cruz finished the game with six receptions for 128 yards, his fourth straight game with at least six receptions and 84 receiving yards. Cruz has recorded at least 84 receiving yards in seven of his past eight games (800 receiving yards overall).

Vince Young overcame a rough start to lead the Eagles to a desperation road win in New York. He passed for 258 yards with two touchdowns (Cooper and Smith) and three interceptions. Depending on your league’s scoring system, his might have been a winning day. I know. In most leagues, the turnovers negate one of his touchdown throws. He still outperformed expectations.

Michael Turner rumbled for 100 yards on 21 carries to help lead the Falcons to a much-needed home win over the Titans. He scored his eighth touchdown of the season in this game and logged his sixth performance with at least 96 rushing yards. Turner did lose a fumble in this contest.

Roddy White established a new season-high mark of 147 receiving yards on seven receptions. He’s caught four or more passes in seven of his past eight starts, though this was just his fourth performance with more than 70 receiving yards during this stretch.

Jake Locker relieved injured starter Matt Hasselbeck (an MRI on his elbow is pending) and raised a few eyebrows in comeback mode. Locker completed nine of his 19 attempts for 140 yards and two touchdowns, both of which were caught by Nate Washington. Locker may receive his first NFL start at home against the Buccaneers in Week 12.

Washington, who had been invisible in recent weeks, was awakened by Locker’s insertion into the game. He posted his best performance in recent weeks under Hasselbeck by catching five passes for 47 yards prior to Hasselbeck’s departure. Washington added four receptions for 68 yards with two touchdowns to lead the comeback effort.

Tony Gonzalez scored for the third straight week and continued his run as a strong PPR performer with five receptions for 74 yards. He’s recorded at least 60 receiving yards in four of the past six games.

Marshawn Lynch has officially flipped the switch and entered “Beast” mode. Lynch scored for the sixth straight game and carried the Seahawks to victory. He logged 27 carries for 88 yards. In the past three weeks, Lynch has been the poster boy for the term “workhorse” with 82 carries.

Brandon Lloyd scored for the third time in four games on a 30-yard strike from Sam Bradford early in Sunday’s loss to Seattle. He’s caught four or more passes in five consecutive games while averaging 64.4 receiving yards.

Alex Smith was tabbed as a “Ninja” special against the Cardinals in Week 11. Smith delivered for fantasy owners in the third quarter with touchdown passes to Kyle Williams and Vernon Davis. He finished with 267 passing yards with one interception and 17 rushing yards.

Davis scored for the second straight game and logged his best yardage total since Week 3 with five receptions for 67 yards. He’s caught multiple passes in every game this season.

Michael Crabtree rebounded from his Week 10 disappearing act with a breakthrough game in support of Smith. Crabtree caught seven passes for a season-high 120 yards, including catches of 38 and 29 yards.

Matthew Stafford rallied from a terrible start to Sunday’s game to post one of the finest stat lines of the week (he was trumped by his new running option). Stafford passed for 335 yards (he completed 28-of-36 attempts) with five touchdowns, his eighth multi-touchdown game of the season.

As I wrote, Stafford was upstaged by Kevin Smith, who emerged from the pack to give the Lions a running game, if only for a week. Smith amassed 201 total yards on 20 touches and scored three touchdowns. He carried the ball 16 times for 140 yards with two touchdowns and helped start Stafford’s comeback with a 28-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter (four receptions for 61 yards). Get your waiver claim in now for the Thanksgiving Day tilt.

Nate Burleson reappeared in the box score with seven receptions for 63 yards, including one of Stafford’s five touchdowns. Brandon Pettigrew (four catches for 37 yards), Titus Young (two receptions for 14 yards) and Tony Scheffler (two receptions for 24 yards) caught the others.

Cam Newton’s stat line against the Lions is confusing, but it was still a “Hero”-worthy effort. Newton passed for 280 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. However, he also rushed for 37 yards and two touchdowns. Newton ranks third in the NFL with nine rushing touchdowns.

I’m not going to belabor the point. Aaron Rodgers is good. Rodgers passed for 299 yards with three touchdowns, two sacks and an interception. He added 28 rushing yards to negate the fantasy effects of that rare turnover.

Jordy Nelson was the recipient of two of Rodgers’ touchdown strikes. Nelson finished the game with six catches for 123 yards. Nelson has amassed 16 receptions for 291 yards with five touchdowns since the Packers’ Week 8 Bye.

Josh Freeman posted a strong day in defeat, producing 342 yards with two touchdowns, two interceptions and two sacks. He fit the “Ninja” profile beautifully.

- Kellen Winslow led the Buccaneers with nine receptions for 132 yards. Remember, his drops and mental errors don’t count in the box score or your fantasy tally.

- Mike Williams finally posted a strong effort with seven receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown. Williams’ touchdown was his first since the season opener.

Tony Romo left his previous struggles against the Redskins in the rearview mirror with a dominant effort on Sunday. Romo passed for 292 yards with three touchdown passes. He absorbed four sacks, but did not commit a turnover. Romo has thrown multiple touchdown passes in four of his past five starts. For all of the detractors, Romo has thrown a single interception during this five-game period.

* Jason Witten (three catches for 85 yards), Dez Bryant (three receptions for 68 yards) and Laurent Robinson (four receptions for 34 yards) caught Romo’s three touchdown passes.

Rex Grossman turned back into “Sexy Rexy” for a moment and took the Cowboys to overtime. Grossman passed for 289 yards with two touchdown passes, one interception and three sacks. He added 10 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown in the upset bid.

Grossman’s willingness to chuck the ball downfield made Jabar Gaffney a viable WR3. He caught seven passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Alas, Gaffney’s resurgence has now been complicated by a silly Twitter exchange with a Dallas fan.

Maurice Jones-Drew found the end zone and mimicked LeBron James’ chalk routine. He and the Jaguars then disappeared like the dust and dropped a winnable road game. Still, MJD performed well for fantasy owners with 21 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown while adding four receptions for 31 yards. Jones-Drew has scored in three straight games.

Chris Ogbonnaya receives an honorary “Hero” tag for his 115-yard effort in Cleveland’s win. Ogbonnaya added two receptions for 19 yards. He’s not world-beating, but that’s two straight fantasy-worthy performances in a row.

Cedric Benson took advantage of his red zone opportunities by scoring twice against the stout Baltimore run defense. Benson amassed only 41 rushing yards on 15 carries, but his trusting fantasy owners couldn’t care less.

Joe Flacco completed 17-of-27 pass attempts for 270 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. His lone completion to Anquan Boldin went for a 35-yard touchdown and he played long toss with Torrey Smith all day long. Flacco’s multi-touchdown performance was his first since Week 3.

Smith caught six passes for 165 yards. It marked his sixth consecutive game with at least three receptions.

The Ravens also remembered to hand the ball to No. 27. Ray Rice carried the ball 20 times for 104 yards with two touchdowns. He added five receptions for 43 yards in the home win. Rice has scored six touchdowns in his past four games.

Jerome Simpson stepped into the No. 1 role in A.J. Green’s absence and posted a fantastic eight-reception, 152-yard performance. Simpson had scored in Weeks 8 and 9 before getting shut out by the Steelers in Week 10.

Celebrate the glory of Matt Moore from the Dolphins. He took advantage of the Bills’ ineptitude and tossed three touchdown passes. Moore completed 14-of-20 attempts for 160 yards.

Reggie Bush continued his fantasy-worthy run with 66 total yards on 19 touches and a rushing touchdown. It wasn’t dominant. I know. I still have to give him a nod.

Michael Bush carried the ball 30 times for 109 yards (his 10th game with at least 90 yards in 11 starts while replacing Darren McFadden). Bush scored a rushing touchdown and caught two passes for 20 yards. He did lose a fumble, but he delivered in a big spot for the Raiders on the road.

Carson Palmer didn’t light up the scoreboard as expected against the depleted Minnesota secondary. However, he still logged a “Hero”-worthy performance with 164 yards and a touchdown pass (four sacks). Palmer enters “Hero” status by rushing for a touchdown.

Christian Ponder gave the Raiders a run with two fourth quarter touchdown passes (Harvin and Rudolph). He finished the game with 211 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Harvin caught six passes for 73 yards, adding five carries for 21 yards. He’s caught at least four passes in four of the past five weeks. Harvin’s touchdown reception was his first of the year.

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